Publication date July 2003 Binding Hardback Extent 450 pp Trim Size 180 x 230mm Illustrations 300 colour photographs
“…[Broomberg and Chanarin’s] work…challenges photojournalism's sense of superiority…the pictures suggest a complex emotional life that transcends glib images of them as refugees, prisoners or psychiatric patients.” Geraldine Bedell, Observer Magazine
This is a journey through 12 modern ghettos starting in a refugee camp in Tanzania and ending in a forest in Patagonia. In each of these places, Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, as editors and photographers of COLORS magazine between August 2000 and December 2002, spent a month in each place and methodically documented their inhabitants, and asked them the same questions: How did you get here? Who is in power? Where do you go to be alone? To make love? To get your teeth fixed? What are your hopes and dreams?For many of those photographed it was their first time in front of a camera. Some looked into it with a hard, penetrating gaze. Others obeyed the ritual of photography with smiles. And Mario, on the cover, turned his back on the camera and waited for the shutter to click.
Between the image of a life and the medium that delivers it there is a void. On the one hand there is the machinery of film, the written word and song, the medium itself. On the other hand there exists the life. It was this void that Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin sought to describe by illustrating the sheer and apparent dignity of lives removed from the everyday, of people who live in societies far from the mainstream.
The answers they received to their questions were both revealing and absurd, but with the powerful and dramatic truths that they found, for instance, with Rafael, a patient in the mental asylum in Cuba:
"What are you scared of Rafael?" "I'm afraid of the outside." "Why?" "Because Rafael is there and I don't want to see him." "But you are Rafael." "Now you understand what I'm scared of."